New Mill restaurant serves an earlier crowd

ORDER UP: ASU junior Camille Steffen, majoring in social work, and graduate Daniel Grover serve brunch at Mill Avenue's newest restaurant Ncounter. (Photo by Rosie Gochnour)

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected because of a reporting error. 

A hip breakfast and lunch restaurant owned by a family of ASU graduates opened its doors on Mill Avenue this month with an official grand opening to follow in September.

Ncounter, located on the Third Street corner, is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. — hours that avoid the nighttime business Mill Avenue is known for.

ASU graduates Thom and Kathy Coker, owners of T.C. Eggington’s in Mesa, took the breakfast-lunch concept from their east Valley restaurant and gave it a modern feel to keep up with the fast-paced lifestyle of ASU students.

Thom said he wanted to open a business in Tempe for a long time, but wasn’t sure if he could make it work because Mill Avenue visitors favor nighttime business. Tempe comes alive in the late afternoon and evening, he said.

There aren’t any restaurants around Mill Avenue that serve only breakfast and lunch, Thom said, and there weren’t any when he was an ASU student in the ‘60s. During that time, Mill Avenue was a raw, undeveloped area with a few hamburger places and rundown bars, he said.

“With our concept, we are trying to do something that is different and nobody has done before,” restaurant operator Ashlee Manuel said.

Thom and Kathy’s daughters Ashlee Manuel and Kyndal Coker — both ASU graduates — and son-in-law Tysen Manuel will be the main operators of the restaurant.

“This is the kids creating their vision,” Kathy said.

The restaurant offers a diverse menu made for the morning and afternoon eater. Customers can wake up their taste buds with an egg burrito filled with bacon and avocado, or grab the “Mill Avenue Stack” sirloin sandwich for lunch. The menu also consists of bakery items, coffee and breakfast cocktails.

All of the fresh, homemade meals on the menu are under $8.50.

“We wanted to give the lowest price for the best value,” Ashlee said. “We wanted everyone to feel like they are getting the same quality of food at the lowest cost.”

The restaurant has dozens of tables and chairs, and a bar inside that extends to an outdoor patio area where customers can be served coffee, cocktails and even mimosas.

The counters at the ordering station, beverage area, bar and in the restrooms are made of concrete.

“Our name is Ncounter, so we focus a lot on the counters in here,” Tysen said.

Ncounter has been open for less than three weeks, and Tysen said business has been great.

Friends, family, students and customers from T.C. Eggington’s have been coming in to check out the new restaurant, Kyndal said.

Customers on the run can get their meals to go and hop back on the light rail on the way to a destination, Tysen said. Soon, customers will be able to order over the phone or online for pick-up.

“We just want this to be uplifting and fresh and a new experience for people,” Thom said. “You can relax, sit down, and be on the patio that has a great view of (A Mountain). If you’re in a hurry, you can grab something quick and get home.”

Reach the reporter at mmistero@asu.edu